Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Mantra: Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wha Hey Guru

This Monday my offering is a Kundalini yoga mantra:

Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wah Hey Guru

This is an absolute favorite of mine because of its powerful meaning and effect, and because it rolls out of my body in such an easy and joyful way. There is a beautiful cadence and rhythm to it, so much so that I tend to use it not only in seated meditations, but when I am out for a run or working in the garden. Try it out and let your heart light shine!!!

This is an Adi shakti mantra (primal power mantra), designed to awaken the shakti energy coiled at the base of the spine, allowing it to vault upwards opening the higher consciousness chakras leading to deep wisdom and bliss states. It acts as a method of communication between your individual soul and the Universal soul.

To practice with this mantra, take a comfortable seat either cross legged on the floor or in a chair. Make sure your spine is straight (to allow the energy to flow freely) and that your breathing is relaxed and deep. As you say the mantra you may also focus on each of the corresponding chakras listed below. A mala, or prayer beads, is a nice way to keep track. Traditionally, a mantra is repeated 108 times in a seated meditation, but start where you are and let the energy guide you on YOUR journey today.

Ek= One, the essence of all; Oneness. (1st Chakra)
Ong= The primal vibration from which creativity flows “I bow to the Creator.” (2nd Chakra)
Kar=  All of Creation. (3rd Chakra)
Sat= Truth. (4th Chakra)
Nam= Name/Identity. (5th Chakra)
Siri= Greatness.  (6th Chakra)
Wahe Guru=The indescribable joy of going from darkness to light. (7th Chakra)

All together this mantra may be translated as, "There is one Creator whose name is Truth. Great is the ecstasy of that Supreme Wisdom""...or something like that. Remember that mantras are written in an energetic language base on primal sounds and vibrations –the very building blocks of all Creation– and so don't translate exactly into other languages.

The great sage, Yogi Bhajan, who brought Kundalini yoga to the West says,
Before sunrise, when the channels of energy are most clear, if this mantra is sung in sweet harmony, you will be one with the Lord. This will open your solar plexus, charging the solar center, connecting it with cosmic energy. You will be liberated from the cycles of karma that bind you to the earth. No tongue can tell how bright the light of cosmic energy is, but when you recite this mantra daily, you will have this light within you.” --Yogi Bhajan.
Here is a beautiful rendition by Snatam Kaur. You can also chant it in an upbeat tempo. Enjoy, and happy chanting!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beginning Again in Meditation

Wonderful article on meditation including this beautiful quote from Sharon Salzberg, "All we need to do is make a loving commitment to sit with our breath, to mindfully cultivate our attention, and, most importantly, to begin again."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Be Careful of the Company You Keep

My good friend and fellow yoga teacher Natalie Maisel (of put this up on her Facebook page this morning and it really struck a cord with me. Keeping a good sangha (community) around us is an important part of being a yogi. It can make all the difference in how our practice unfolds, and it is certainly a great factor in how happy and positive our everyday life is. I go to great lengths to surround myself with POSITIVE PEOPLE. I highly recommend them:-)

Good advice for us all...

“You must constantly ask yourself these questions:Who am I around?What are they doing to me?What have they got me reading?What have they got me saying?...Where do they have me going?What do they have me thinking?And most important, what do they have me becoming?Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay?”
- Jim Rohn

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Angels in the Yoga Studio & the Spirit of Breath

Last week I was asked to be on a wonderful radio show: Alicia Tucker's Light as a Feather Angel Show on The Barefoot Broadcaster's network (part of Blog Talk Radio.) Alicia's show airs weekly on Fridays at 1pm EST (you can tune into it here.) Alicia teaches and shares on all things connected to angels, creating abundance in our lives and clearing negative energies and patterns; she also does live readings (you can call in and the reading is free). You can learn more about Alicia and her fabulous abundance program, Love = Money = Love, here.

Alicia was kind enough to invite me on last Friday (3/4/2011) to speak about Yogic breathing and how it helps us to raise our consciousness to higher levels, as well as healing the physical body and calming the mind. You can listen to the entire show, here.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the show generously provided by Carl Munson, the Barefoot Broadcaster himself. The first is me speaking about my own experiences with angels, in particular before teaching my yoga classes, and the other is me talking about pranayama (yogic breathing.)

Enjoy! May peace and love be with you always.



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Breathe out Winter, Breathe in Spring

Crocus, daffodils and forsythia in bloom in my back garden!

This week Gastonia, North Carolina has come alive with daffodils and forsythia, and it seems that everyone (myself included!) is bursting at the seams to get outside, plant their gardens and enjoy the Spring air. As you head outside I hope you will take your mat with you! This is the time to benefit from the energy of our Earth reawakening. Place your feet softly on the earth, raise your finger tips to the sky and drink in the wonderful prana (energy) of life renewing itself.

This is also a great time to clear out and clean up – not just closets, but energetically speaking, as well. In our yoga classes at Blissful Body Yoga this month we will be working to lighten and detoxify the body, and open the heart and mind to new abundance and possibilities. This Friday is the New Moon which carries the forward moving energy of new growth, so it is the perfect time to "plant the seeds of change" in your life. In the words of Joseph Campbell, who has so inspired my life, "Follow your bliss!"

Meditation is the way to cultivate the most fertile ground for all personal growth. Developing a meditation practice calms the "vritts," or fluctuations of the mind, and allows us to see a clear, unwavering reflection of our True Self, rather that an image that is just a distorted reflection of who we really are.

Walking Meditation
Spring is a wonderful time for walking meditation. Walk outside and take a deep breath. Take your shoes off and walk around taking care to plant your foot from heel to toe with each step. Savor the sensations of your feet touching the earth, enjoy the transfer of weight from you, to the ground, and back as you walk. Stop, close your eyes, and listen to the sounds around you: the birds, the wind, little creatures running to and fro...maybe you will even hear the petals of a flower unfolding. Let your mind unfold. Let go of the past and soak in the present moment. Let the warm rays of the sun soak your Anahata chakra (heart center) and fill it with love and compassion for your self and for all of our planet. Repeat the following affirmation three times:

Breathing in, I breath in light and love
Breathing out, I release all that is dark and negative
I am light, I am love.
I love myself, I love all of the world.

Breathing in, I breath in light and love
Breathing out, I release all that is dark and negative
I am light, I am love.
I love myself, I love all of the world.

Breathing in, I breath in light and love
Breathing out, I release all that is dark and negative
I am light, I am love.
I love myself, I love all of the world.

May your walk, and all of your journeys be fill with joy and peace. Om shanti.

P.S. I realize that much of the country and world are still under a blanket of winter cold and snow. You can still do this meditation in your winter coat and boots on a sunny day, or even in your living room in a patch of sunlight coming in the window. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What is your inquiry? How can I help?

Hello Blissful Yoginis and Yogis!

What is your inquiry today? What is it that you are craving in your heart of hearts to know? To study? What would inform and enlighten your path?

I ask this question as a bit of a nudge to get you thinking about these questions, and also because as a yogini I want to be of service and to know how I can serve you better.

Many of you are far away and can not attend my classes, and may not even have yoga in your area. People contact me all the time asking if they could do some sort of "distance learning" with me on certain topics. So far, learning to meditate and learning pranayama (breathing techniques) seem to head up the list. Stress reduction in the work place has also been requested as a topic.

So, in response to what I see as a clear need, I have begun to develop a series of e-course so that I can teach, help and serve many more people all around our world. I have the first program written, Introduction to Meditation: Part One, and I hope to have the website and several other programs ready to roll in about 3 months.

I would be honored and it would help me so much if you could take a moment to jot down any ideas, requests, etc. you have for classes. Please let me know what you need and how I can serve you better! I am open to all topics and ideas, so please share freely.

Thank you for your time, your support and your continued practice of yoga which keeps our delicate world turning and holds us all in the light.

Peace and love,

Yoga For Youth: Healing and Uplifting with Love and Compassion

This is sooooo beautiful. All children should have yoga...All PEOPLE should have yoga in their lives. What wonderful, uplifting, healing work these yogis are doing. Hari Om!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Healthy Vegan Rutabaga Gratin

In honor of Oprah doing a show today on VEGANISM (woooot!) I am making this recipe for dinner (from one of my favorite magazines – Martha Stewart's Whole Living.) I was showing it to my students in my yoga class at Blissful Body Yoga this morning and they were all excited about it. Maybe you'll be inspired to give it a try too! I plan on putting a little shredded onion in mine as well...ummm...onions. Also, I don't have any nutritional yeast at the minute, so I am skipping that bit.

Are you saying..."What the HELL is a rutabaga?" Read up on them here. They are a delicious, nutritious and versatile root vegetable.

Happy eating and come back to see my follow up post on how my turned out complete with pictures!

Be blissful! Be happy!

Rutabaga Gratin
Amy Pennington, creator of GoGo Green Garden and Urban Garden Share and author of "Urban Pantry," made-over her favorite childhood recipe.
"Every Thanksgiving my mom made mashed rutabaga when we were kids, and no one ate it but my mom and me. I've tweaked the recipe a lot: I've made it vegan, and instead of mashing it together with a bunch of butter and bacon fat, as my mom did, I used a nut cream, which makes the rutabagas velvety in and of themselves. It's much healthier, but it still feels really filling and lush."
Serves 6 to 8
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 slices rustic bread, torn into small pieces
  • 2 small rutabagas (1 1/2 lb.), peeled and cut into about 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Make cashew cream: In a medium bowl, pour boiling water over cashews and let sit until they soften, at least 15 minutes and up to 30. Stir in yeast. Puree mixture in a blender on highest setting until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.
  2. Make breadcrumbs: Pulse bread in a food processor until coarsely ground. Set aside. (You should have 1 cup.)
  3. Assemble gratin: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover bottom of an 8-inch-round baking dish with a single layer of rutabaga slices, overlapping edges and working in a circle. Season with salt, pepper, and some of the chopped herbs. Add another layer and season with salt, pepper, and herbs. Pour in about 1/3 of cashew cream -- enough to cover both layers. Continue until baking dish is full. Pour in remaining cashew cream. Sprinkle nutmeg over top layer. Toss breadcrumbs with oil in a small bowl. Top gratin with breadcrumbs.
  4. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until rutabagas are tender when pierced with a sharp knife and breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
From Whole Living, November 2010

Read more at Rutabaga Gratin

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cosmetics that won't kill us.

Hello my Darlings!

Just a quick post to share something new in my ever widening attempts to make sure everything we use and eat is as low in toxins and cruelty free as possible.

This is the only line I have found so far (that looked good to me, anyway) that rates 1-3 on the cosmetic data base website for low toxicity. SO excited to finally find a make up line that isn’t full of poisons and animal urine. If anyone has found any other good companies, please share! Also, they are out of North Carolina....bonus!

Also, I have been looking at the shampoo/conditioner dilemma for a while and what I really like to use is Dr. Bronner’s lavender liquid castile soap as shampoo and then two of their products (see below) as a conditioner and leave-in product. I buy the Dr. Bronner’s by the gallon and use for hand soap, cleaning, hand-washing clothing, all sorts of stuff. The peppermint is great too!

Where to buy: Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap:

Conditioning rinse:

Hair crème:
This looks really good, but I haven’t tried it yet:

Use EWG to look up brands and chemicals. Be informed and powerful in your choices! Vote with your dollars and we will all see a healthier planet and people!

Happy Friday! 

Peace and Love,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Please help this wonderful farm for Wolf Dogs.

Please help this wonderful farm in Black Mountain, North Carolina that is doing wonderful work to help rescued Wolf Dogs. They are beautiful and amazing creatures...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Food for a Winter's Day: Marrakesh Stew

I made this for Mike and I and it is a new favorite! 

I found it in one of my favorite cooking magazines, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food (Jan./Feb. 2011). The Garam Masala is my addition and you can leave it out if you don't have any.

From a yogic perspective (or Ayurvedic perspective – that is the health branch of yogic philosophy) this is exactly the sort of thing we should be eating on a cold, winter's day. All of the spices in the dish are warming to the body, as are the vegetables used. The chick peas add some nice protein, and serving over quinoa will give you even more. This is a very satisfying and complete vegetarian dish. It also freezes very well.

So make up a nice big pot and enjoy!

May your body, mind and spirit be nourished and blissful,

Marrakesh Stew
Serves 8 * Active time: 10 min. * Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, diced large
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 larged diced tomato
3 3/4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 small eggplants, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Served on top of cooked couscous or quinoa.
(1) In an 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 mins. Add spices, and cook until fragrant, 2 min. Add carrots, potatoes, and squash and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 5 mins. Add tomato and broth (vegs should be completely covered by liquid; add water to cover if necessary). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 mins.

(2) Add eggplant, stir to combine, and simmer until eggplant is tender, 20 mins. Stir in chickpeas, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until chickpeas are warmed through.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Awareness and Intent

Awareness and Intent
'Tis the New Year and the time of resolutions. While I am a big fan of clarity and "plotting a course" for the future, I think the way a lot of us go about making new year resolutions actually sets us up for failure. We set up an all or nothing laundry list of goals and things that we will give up that often ends up hanging over us like a leaden weight. When we "mess up" on some part of the list we feel like a failure and all the critical voices in our heads come to the forefront. 

Yoga can help us approach the changes we want to bring to our lives in a mindful and compassionate manner. It helps us do this in the same way it helps us grow a beautiful, sweet and steady yoga asana on the mat: by cultivating awareness and intent in every moment.

In our yoga practice, when we "fall out of a pose" we learn not to slump into a heap of criticism and self-loathing, instead we say, "How wonderful is this moment? Hmmm, why did that happen? I notice that I came out of my pose and now I have an opportunity to correct it!" Suddenly,  we are back in the present, back in the pose and have an opportunity to recognize what factors caused us to come out of the pose in the first place. We can then go forward with continued mindfulness and equanimity. Over time we become steady and unmoved by the whims and winds of change that swirl around us.

Life is a "practice" also. Nothing, especially change, happens all at once. We cultivate it little by little and with lots of practice.

We can approach what I like to call our, "intent for change" in the same manner. Let's say I have decided my intent for the year is to eat a more wholesome whole-food diet that will nourish my body, mind and spirit. On the very first day my husband bakes my favorite cookies. My favorite! I remember my intent, but the cookies call to mel — so yummy and fresh out of the oven. I eat FOUR. Sigh. I feel the sinking feeling of failure approach, I start to cut my self down for being so weak, but then, I stop. I say, "OK, I ate these cookies. This was not part of my intent. My intent is a good one, it is one I truly want and I can embrace it in this moment and go forward. I am a good person and I can observe myself and make postive adjustments when I need to." I also ask myself, "Why did I need that cookie so badly? What need was it filling inside me? Did I even really enjoy it?" By asking these questions I open a revolutionary inquiry into my own mind, into the depths of who I am and what makes me tick. I start on a journey of a thousand miles with that one step, instead of sitting down in the dirt to cry and give up.

I wish you peace, progress and compassion in all of your intentions this year. May you be steeped in awareness and surrounded by light.